Load shedding and escalating energy costs have had significant impacts on businesses in South Africa. Whilst South Africa’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPP), which has been at the forefront of South African energy news, is going some of the way to addressing South Africa’s energy requirements, many businesses are starting to take matters into their own hands and look to self-generation in the form of solar power.
South Africa’s electricity prices have rocketed by more than 170% over the past five years, contributing to the closure of many small businesses. And whilst load shedding remains very much at the forefront of minds, additional pressures in the form of carbon taxes are causing business to not only re-evaluate their electricity supply but also their sustainability policies.
PV has gained a lot of traction in international commercial and industrial markets and now is starting to show signs of taking off in South Africa. Cape Town will play host to the Annual Solar Indaba this September and included on the registered list of attendees are energy managers from cold stores, supermarkets, businesses with large warehouses and mining, cement and other heavy energy users.
Speaking in a webinar in the run up to the Indaba, Emergent Energy’s Jonathan Skeen and Romano Group’s Bruce Conne spoke of the uptake in South Africa’s commercial and industrial markets to date. Even without net metering schemes in place, the decreasing costs of PV systems coupled with projected energy increases already make solar a more cost effective option. And with investors becoming increasingly comfortable with small scale systems and the interest from power users in PPAs on the increase, owning a system outright is no longer the only available option.
An increase in self-generation, however, presents new challenges to already cash strapped municipalities, potentially eroding a key revenue stream. In spite of this municipalities are already starting net metering pilot schemes in preparedness for wide-scale deployment and the cities of Cape Town, Durban and Jo’burg will all voice their thoughts at this year’s Indaba.
Such engagement from the power users and municipalities is news to the ears of the solar sector and businesses attracted to the South African market by the REIPPP are now viewing lucrative business opportunities in the commercial and industrial sector.